Hydrophilic Coatings for Urological Catheters
I briefly mentioned this issue over a year ago here, and honestly I have been holding back on the subject for a few reasons which I won't get into. However, now I'm going to ask the question: Why the heck would anyone want to put a hydrophilic coating on a urological catheter?
Seriously, if anyone reading this has an explanation, post a comment or email me.
I will tell you why I think it is not a sound idea.
Urological catheters, by and large, are CHEAP. Foley catheters cost less than a dollar to make. Many other uro-catheters cost not much more than that. In turn, the catheters are sold for only about $2 to $3, for the most part. Think of the many million, if not a billion, Foleys that are sold every year. The urological catheter portion of the market is approaching $5 billion in 2010. Nearly all of these are cheap disposable items that are used for a relatively short period and then thrown away.
Now think of a hydrophilic coating. I don't care whose coating you think about, whether it's Biocoat
, or Surmodics, or Coatings2Go
, or AST, which is similar to Coatings2Go. No matter whose coatings you use, someone has to be paid to put them on. Someone has to be paid to validate the GMP process you use to coat them. They are medical devices after all. If you are talking about volumes of 50,000 to 100,000 per year, you are talking about a cost of at LEAST $8 to $10 PER CATHETER to coat the things. Much of that cost includes labor. The materials cost will vary from company to company, but no matter which company's coating you pick, you will still pay that much, ultimately.... even if your actual material costs are 5 cents a piece. You will even pay that much if you outsource to a contract manufacturer, maybe more so.
So, again, I ask why would someone pay $8 to $10 to coat a $2 to $3 urological catheter? It's a mystery to me.
I have been told by elder businessmen that companies sometimes use these as loss-leaders. They take the profit hit on the urological catheters so they can get other products in their product line into the hospital, and these products have a much higher profit margin.... you know, like greater than zero.
The problem with this explanation is I don't see it. I get calls at least once a day from urological catheter companies seeking to use our coating. Each one usually tells me that these are the only products they plan to have.... They are not loss leaders.
Why should I not dissuade such customers from approaching the likes of us and other hydrophilic coating companies?